For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11

Dear Friends,

As people of faith, do we stereotype American Muslims? What misconceptions do we have about what American Muslims face each day? Do we live in a post Christian culture? These are some of the many questions people of faith are asking these days. We’re reminded that we live in a country with laws supporting the freedom of religious expression. As the church, we are called to do more.

It’s not enough to simply tolerate the diversity of religious expression. Ideally, our role as people of faith, as Christians, as children of God, loved by God in Christ and called to go out into the world to make God’s world known, is to go well beyond religious tolerance. Rather, we’re to build relationships of mutual respect with our brothers and sisters of different faiths.

We live in a predominantly Christian country. At the same time religious diversity has been our country’s hallmark. Anti-apartheid, social activist, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is said to have responded to a question about what Anglicans “do”. “We meet,” said Archbishop Tutu. “We meet” as a body of faithful people trusting in the spirit of God to enter into our meeting that relationships will take root, grow and help change the world to make God’s world known. As the Episcopal Church and part of the Anglican Communion, believing in the spirit of God working in each of us, we are reaching out to “meet” with our brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith.

Come this Sunday evening September 24, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. We’ll gather with our friends from the nearby Muslim community to share in fellowship and dialogue with Dr. Ahmad Jarrah, an Associate Professor and Faculty Director at George Washington University. We’ll begin at 5:00 p.m. with a Pot Luck dinner. Then, Dr. Jarrah, a first generation Muslim American, and strongly attached to his faith, will share his perception of practicing as an American Muslim. Dr. Jarrah does not profess to be an academic scholar on Islam. In fact, he’s an Associate Professor of Decision Sciences at GWU and comes from an analytics and logistics background. But, recently, Dr. Jarrah approached both our neighbors across the street, Community of Faith United Methodist Church and us about meeting, and building relationships to strengthen the bonds of faithful folks. Sunday night, along with COF we’ll gather with the wider community, including a few friends from the ADAMS center. Once again, as Christians and Muslims, we’ll share our stories as faithful folks who believe in our one true God known to us in the Abrahamic traditions of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Bring neighbors, family and friends and plan to be with us Sunday for Pot Luck dinner at 5:00 p.m. and dialogue from 6:00-7:30 p.m. with Dr. Ahmad Jarrah.

Sunday morning in worship, we’ll hear from seminarian Seldon Walker who will be preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and his parable of the workers in the vineyard where we’re humbly reminded, the last will be first and the first will be last. Ministry Team moments will begin again on Sunday. We’ll hear from Children, Youth and Family Ministries and how their faithful work is leading us to GROW. If you were unable to make it to Women’s Bible Study tonight, stop by my office immediately following worship on Sunday and guide yourself through Beth Moore’s “Daniel” dvd to get caught up before next Wednesday. God is working in our time together, with new friends and not so new friends.

Finally, over these next days, look for a letter in your mail from your vestry giving you an update on some corrections we’re taking in the budget over these next weeks. God is generous in working through Epiphany to find solutions and we’re grateful.

As always, it is an honor to serve with you. See you Sunday!